Neighbor who killed Spring Grove's Sam Stein expected to die in prison
Raymond Heck Sr. betrayed no emotion as he spoke in court about using his fishing knife to murder his 24-year-old Spring Grove neighbor, Samantha Stein.
He showed no emotion minutes later as her loved ones talked about how Stein's little girl will grow up without her mother. Family members say she witnessed the attack on her mother.
And Heck had no reaction when — after sentencing Heck to 35 to 70 years in state prison — presiding Common Pleas Judge Maria Musti Cook addressed his apparent lack of remorse in open court on Tuesday, Dec. 18.
"I'm not sure if you understand the gravity of your offenses, but you'll have a long time to consider them," Cook told the confessed murderer.
Heck appeared in York County Court on Tuesday and pleaded guilty to third-degree murder, burglary, possessing an instrument of crime, theft and receiving stolen property.
Charges of first- and second-degree murder were dropped in exchange for his plea.
Life sentence: As part of his negotiated plea agreement, the 60-year-old man was sentenced to 35 to 70 years in state prison.
"The purpose of this sentence was to be a life sentence," chief deputy prosecutor Chuck Murphy told The York Dispatch after the hearing.
The plea agreement keeps Heck in prison for the rest of his life and allows Stein's loved ones to avoid the pain of reliving her death at trial, according to Murphy.
Also, because Heck pleaded guilty, his appeal rights are significantly limited, Murphy confirmed.
Stein, of the first block of North Main Street, was found dead shortly after 7 a.m. Dec. 16, 2017, by fiance Allen Sena when he came home from work, Southwestern Regional Police have said.
She suffered 22 stab wounds, including defensive wounds, according to York County Coroner Pam Gay.
Prior to accepting Heck's guilty plea, Cook asked him to describe his crimes.
"I broke into (Stein's) house to steal her stuff. On my way out, Samantha woke up and surprised me," he said. "I grabbed the knife and started swinging and must've cut her. ... Next thing I know she wasn't moving."
More to the story? Southwestern Regional Detective Sgt. Lisa Layden, the lead investigator in the case, confirmed she feels there's "reason to believe there's more to the story" than merely a burglary gone wrong.
"We can't ever know what's going on in someone else's mind," she said, but she noted that it appears Heck "had an attraction to her and may have felt that wasn't returned."
Stein and Heck were neighbors for about eight months after Heck's son took him in, Layden has said.
Stein's mother, Cassandra Gonzalez, spoke in court and said her daughter was kind to Heck and tried to help him.
She called Heck selfish and disgusting.
'He's just nothing': Gonzalez also spoke about how profoundly her granddaughter has been affected.
"Not only did she lose her mom, she had to witness it," Gonzalez said, then vowed, "I will not let her be afraid for the rest of her life."
Bobbie Stein, the victim's sister, said that Heck "deserves to live in a nightmare," because that's what he's done to her family.
"He's just nothing and he deserves nothing," she said.
Sena told the judge, "Samantha was something special," and he said Heck used her for his own personal gain.
Stein's stepfather, Richard Eberly, said the sentence means "he will not ever do this to anyone else."
Bad intent? Southwestern Regional Police Chief Greg Bean has told The York Dispatch evidence appears to belie Heck's claim that Stein's death happened because she interrupted him burglarizing her home.
"We know that he cut the wires to the outside cameras to the victim's residence (before breaking in)," he said. "That would contribute to the idea that it was a planned attack."
Heck wore gloves and disguised his appearance, Bean said. Heck also brought a knife with him, the chief said.
Stein had befriended Heck, and he would occasionally walk her to a nearby bus stop, police have said. Then something changed.
"At some point Samantha took steps to limit or block communications with (Heck)," documents state. "But he persisted in contacting her."
Not close: The two weren't close friends, according to Bean.
"She pulled back from the relationship, and then this happened," he said.
"(Heck) liked Samantha and indicated that he hoped for something more than friendship between them," Layden wrote in court documents.
Those documents indicate Heck stole a PlayStation, two cellphones, a lockbox and a webcam from Stein's home, items with a total value of less than $1,200.
Stein's young daughter and two stepsons were in the home when she was murdered, Bean has said; all three escaped physical injury.
— Reach Liz Evans Scolforo at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @LizScolforoYD.